By MISA Zimbabwe
A journalist was allegedly physically attacked during the past weekend while there were also threats to burn a car belonging to a media company as tempers flared over the sentencing of former South African President Jacob Zuma to a 15-month jail term.
The attack reportedly happened outside Zuma’s home in Nkandla, some 530km away from the capital, Pretoria, where protesters had gathered.
The South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) reported that SABC journalist, Samkele Maseko, was physically manhandled by one supporter. SANEF chairperson, Sbu Ngalwa, witnessed the attack on Maseko and had to step in to rescue the journalist.
On the previous day, another protester interrupted a live broadcast.
Zuma’s eldest son, Edward, allegedly threatened to burn one of the media vehicles parked outside his father’s house.
Journalists covering the crowd that was picketing outside Zuma’s house were also subjected to verbal attacks.
Attacks on journalists are an affront to the South African constitution, which promotes the unhindered exercise of media freedom and the right to free expression.
The attacks on the journalists come at a time when the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), has raised alarm at the surge in attacks against journalists covering protests.
Journalists have a critical role in reporting and informing audiences on protests and events as they unfold. We urge the South African authorities to immediately investigate these incidents and bring those culpable to book.
South Africa is generally viewed as the bastion of media freedom and the right to free expression in the region, hence these attacks on journalists are quite worrying as they could set a bad precedence for other countries in Southern Africa.
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